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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Pavel Barber

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Pavel Barber

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Pavel Barber

Wed Jun 29 2022 11:47:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

In 2022, Bitcasino partnered with 3ICE in an exciting venture for the brand new ice hockey league. And now, after a successful start to 3ICE, Bitcasino spoke to social media star and stick-handling specialist Pavel Barber to see his thoughts on the inaugural 3ICE event, whilst also discussing NHL stars, the upcoming NHL draft, and the future of hockey in Canada. 


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See the full interview below.

First 3ICE event last weekend (06/18), what are your thoughts on how it went? 

The first event I wasn't able to go to, but I got to watch. Just watching it - they had 4,000 fans there, and it seemed to be going really smoothly. People seemed to be enjoying the non-stop pace of the action. For myself, it was a good change of pace to watch a different style of hockey, and you're constantly seeing the action, so it was a great first tour stop for 3ICE for sure. 

How is this form of hockey going to change the future of the game? 

3-on-3 is in the NHL already, I think development wise, it makes a lot of sense. You touch the puck so many times and there’s so many offensive changes. I think it's one of those things where in development where you're trying to increase the amount of touches, the amount of directional changes, the amount of offensive changes, 2-on-1 and 1-on-1 opportunities. 3-on-3 really does offer that for people, and we're seeing it here in 3ice. 

Should more youth coaches and leagues should be implementing this form of hockey? 

Yeah, absolutely, any small area game where you're shrinking the space, forces people to do that. Even if you're doing 3-on-3 in a larger area, I think it's fun for the kids. I've been to many 3-on-3 tournaments with the kids and the pressure is off, and they have a shootout contest in the middle, and they're having fun. It really shows the kids that it's not all about winning, 3-on-3 is a fun way to develop and not have all this pressure. I think with the new rules in 3ICE, I think it's really cool for development for kids, and it will be a great thing to implement. 

Could 3-on-3 hockey follow in the footsteps of 3x3 basketball and join the (Winter) Olympics? 

I think we are far from it. The only reason I say that is because we have another form of hockey already in the summer Olympics, in field hockey. Obviously I would love it, I think it would be unbelievable to get 3-on-3 hockey in there, but I think we're a bit further away from basketball, but it would certainly be unbelievable if it did make its way there. 

Could 3ICE as a league expand from North America and become a big thing in Europe? 

Yeah, absolutely. I think in places like Finland, Sweden, Chech Republic, and Russia,  this could be a big thing for them. They would love it, certainly the European countries, they're used to bigger ice surfaces, they're used to a little bit more time and space, so playing 3-on-3 for them would be a no brainer, and I think they would love it. 

They're all about the intricate skills, like all the dekes and dangles, elimination moves, stuff like that, so I could definitely see it getting big over there. 

What has it been like training under these former NHL stars? 

It's certainly an honour, you just look at the resume of these coaches and it's surreal what these guys have accomplished, and the fact that they're coaching us and they're just around us and just their presence, they know far more about the game, and they've been through so much. Any time they talk it's all ears from us. It's just really cool to be around greatness like that

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Who would you rate as the best stick handler in the NHL at the moment? 

Definitely Patrick Kane, he's had the best pure handles in the NHL. Which was supported by an NHL player vote this year as well, I think close to 40% actually voted him as the best hands. He'd be number one for me, Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon are pretty close, a few other guys. There's definitely a lot more guys with nasty handles than 15 years ago, there's a lot of guys who can do a lot of damage with a stick, but Kane is number one for me. 

Any previous NHL players that would top Kane? 

That's tough. It's all generational. For me, whenever I compare generations, it's tough, because they always get better, they always build off the previous generation, and that's kind of a testament to the previous generation, they set the bar, and it continues to raise with technological advances too. I would say, before Kane, Pavel Datsyuk was the best. He wasn't crazy fast with his hands or anything, but he was so deceptive and so allusive, he didn't have to do crazy amounts of things with his stick, he did a lot with the body to fake people out. But he would make people look stupid regularly, he would be my guy. 

Who would be your dream player to train? 

One of those two for sure (Kane or Datsyuk). I would say Datsyuk would be the dream, even though he's not in the NHL anymore. Just to be around him, he's been an idol of mine for so many years, I've learned so much from him, he's probably the cleanest player you could find in the game, just being able to work with him, just to see what he could do and how you could push him on the ice would be great. 

Moving onto the NHL draft, Shane Wright is tipped to go at number one, what are your thoughts on the player?  

I actually shot a commercial with him not too long ago, and we were just talking. I know he's a great kid. He's fun to be around, likes to have a good time, and I know he's got an unbelievable shot. He's one of those players who can be dangerous from further out, which I think is such a great foundation to build off. He's not really known to dangle as much as other top prospects, but he certainly does have fantastic hands. He's got that crazy shot from the outside, he's a very strong big kid, so I think the future is pretty great for him. He's ready, and he's confident. People have been labeling him as cocky, and I think he's just a kid who believes in himself, and believes he deserves what he's got, and has worked hard for it, and I believe that too. 

Anyone else that could make an impact in the NHL from this year's draft? 

I think Pavel Mintyukov from Russia, I've been watching him quite a bit, he's been pretty unbelievable as well. 

There are some good prospects coming up. Connor Bedard in the future, we've been watching him in Vancouver, he's had eyes on him since he was really really young. I was fortunate enough to play with him. We did a 3-on-3 small area thing, and within five minutes he had a hat trick, he was playing against kids 3 years older than him. He's just insane to watch and play, so I'm definitely excited to see him step on the ice as well. 

Any tips for younger players that are dreaming of the NHL? 

I would say you have to love what you do first, the amount of focused hours you've got to put in are very very high, and if you're not enjoying what you do, you're not going to do it for very long. It's one of those things that gets lost in the pressure and the grind, is the fact you’ve got to love it. Find ways to make it fun and enjoyable, and always remember we play this game for fun first, obviously we want results, but keep it fun first. Then obviously focus would be important, if you have an hour of ice time and you focus for that hour, you’ve made the most of it. Managing your focus level and keeping it fun would be my advice. 

You've played field hockey and other sports, are they beneficial for young players and are skills cross-compatible? 

I wouldn't say skills from field hockey to ice hockey translate, floor ball which I play now a little bit more, but it's not necessary to play it. But it is a really fun way to play. But for me, it was great to play other sports. I was the kid who always wanted to play different sports growing up, and I had the choice to settle with hockey when I was 12 or 13, if I wanted to just do that, and I knew I didn't want to do just one. For me personally I had to play other sports, I wanted to try and challenge myself. For other people, if you want to just do hockey, then by all means do it, but if you want to play other sports and challenge yourself, it was worth it for me, and as a trainer now it's helped me to see things from the lense of an athlete and high performance athletes in different sports and what it really takes to make it. 

Some stats have shown an increase in numbers in soccer compared to hockey in Canada, why do you think this is and could it see a change in the love of the sport? 

Accessibility is the biggest barrier to entry into hockey, it's the ice cost. The surface we play on costs so much to maintain, and then the full equipment we have to have, and training is more expensive. Hockey is a very expensive sport to play, so you're going to get low enrollment. 

For hockey players, I wouldn't be too worried about another sport coming in, especially soccer, which is the greatest sport to just pick up and play, and you don't have to have much money to start. 

With soccer you can just grab a ball and go to a field and train with a friend for free, but for hockey you have to rent ice, so it's really difficult for hockey players in that regard. It's great to see other sports like soccer that have less of a barrier to entry get more participation, obviously I hope hockey find ways to cut costs so we can keep getting those numbers, and I know there's programmes that do that for young kids specifically, but I just hope that keeps going because I love hockey so much. 

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Pavel Barber

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